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The debate over legalising betting and gambling has been an ongoing struggle for the Indian parliamentarians. The latest news in this regard came through when it was announced that Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor (cover image) will be introducing a private member’s bill in Parliament to regulate sports betting in the country.
The bill in question will be dealing with formally penalising those involved in match-fixing. It is scheduled to be introduced in the lower house of parliament on December 28.
Commenting on this announcement founder of Glaws.in, Jay Sayta expounded on the importance of the upcoming bill, “The bill, which is titled Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018 is aimed to introduce an effective regime to maintain the integrity of sports in India by preventing and penalizing sports fraud and for regulation of online sports gaming, as per the Lok Sabha’s agenda”.
Back in July 2018, the 276th report of the Law Commission of India (LCI) was released which was an exhaustive 145-page report that suggested that sports betting and gambling should be legalised with regulations.
The LCI suggests that Parliament can enact a model law for regulating gambling, which can then be implemented by the state governments. This is because the subject of sports betting and gambling is a matter for state governments to legislate under the provisions of the Constitution. Further, the LCI takes the example of horse racing to suggest that other such games of skill should be exempted from the blanket prohibition on gambling.
To ensure that the legalisation of gambling and betting does not lead to mass addiction among the general public, the LCI suggests that there must be a limit on the number of transactions that an individual can indulge in over a specific period. This can be monthly, half yearly or yearly. As per the LCI, even the amount of betting being done could be kept under check by linking it to PAN card and Aadhaar card of the players. Such activities should also be restricted to those above the age of 18, the recommendations in the report state.
The LCI also recommends that “allowing FDI in this industry would bring substantial amounts of investment to those states that decide to permit casinos, propelling the growth of the tourism and hospitality industries, while also enabling such States to generate higher revenue and employment opportunities”.
Besides sports betting, Tharoor has also voiced his opinion on legalising marijuana stating that it would improve the economy as well as reduce corruption and drug-related crimes. In a piece written for The Print, Tharoor and his nephew, Avinash Tharoor discussed the need for legalising the drug. They argued that an unregulated black market for cannabis does not let users know what it is that they are consuming and prevents users from making an informed decision.
“Imposing tax on cannabis sales can create revenue that can be spent on educating people about the risks of cannabis use, as we already do with public service information on alcohol and tobacco,” they stated.
However, Tharoor wasn’t the first politician to speak in favour of legalising marijuana. In July 2017, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi called for the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. She made the suggestion at a meeting, which scrutinized the National Drug Demand Reduction Policy draft.